We are a web design agency based in Salisbury that specialise in creating and marketing bespoke websites. That being said, our team have been making commercial websites since 1997 and have experience with many content management systems including WordPress, Joomla Drupal and Magento. This gives us an advantage over many other web agencies as we can see the pitfalls and benefits of each and provide a whole-of-market analysis for our clients.
We have previously written articles on why web developers shouldn’t use WordPress, and why we don’t use WordPress as standard, but that being said we appreciate that WordPress and the other content management systems do have their place and are good solutions in many cases.
Crucially however, we also know that WordPress is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution and there are often more suitable platforms for website design. This specifically runs true for more complicated or large website builds.
I’m sure there may be some WordPress developers out there reading this now and shuddering, so I pose the question, “Could you build a website such as eBay or Google with WordPress?” … of course not. Okay Google and eBay are extreme examples, but the same holds true for other more comprehensive systems.
WordPress has plugins for a wide range of functionality, from forums, to eCommerce, to download systems, all developed by different people. This can work well and it means that you can make a lot of website very quickly which is one of the benefits of WordPress. However this process soon becomes far more complicated if these plugins need to be modified, written from scratch, or need to be integrated with each other.
We’ve had several tenders sent to us recently from larger organisations and those in the public sector. They have given us a comprehensive specification with a lot of functionality that would really push the boundaries of what WordPress could deliver.
It could be possible to build the website in WordPress, but the amount of custom work that would be needed to modify the plugins and integrate them with each other means that it wouldn’t be feasible. The amount of customisation required would far exceed the build costs for a bespoke website.
If WordPress was indeed mandatory, the obvious compromise would be to limit the functionality of, or integration between the plugins to that which is (almost) standard. However this means finding plugins that will add the vast majority of the functionality needed ‘out of the box’, and ensuring that they all communicate with each other. Even if this was a compromise worth making, the website would probably be ‘bursting at the seams’ and issues would likely arise in the future when more functionality is required by the client.
With large or more complicated projects such as these WordPress may not be as perfect as many clients imagine.
So the obvious question is why do clients specify that WordPress is used for these projects if it is not suitable?
We believe the answer to this is ignorance. Clients may not understand the differences between various content management systems, and crucially may not be aware of their limitations. This is partly because they may not be as technically-minded, and partly because many WordPress developers have marketed it as ‘one size fits all’ in the past.
After communicating with clients about these tenders, we have asked them why WordPress is part of their specification. Their responses were typically because their friend uses WordPress for their website and says it’s good, or they have used themselves it in their past employment. What they fail to realise is that WordPress may well have been a good solution for their last website, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a good solution for their new one. Every project has different requirements and requires a different solution.
The purpose of this article is not to say that WordPress isn’t a viable solution, or even that WordPress isn’t the best solution for some websites, but to categorically say that WordPress isn’t the best solution for all websites.
When considering a new website build the web design agency should consider all avenues, and the client should keep an open mind. Ideally the client will provide a list of requirements and trust their web designers to advise them of the best possible content management system and infrastructure.